First Wind, an independent U.S.-based wind energy company, has celebrated completion of its Steel Winds II expansion. Local leaders joined First Wind officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the project site, which was built on the shores of Lake Erie on the abandoned Bethlehem Steel mill site. With Steel Winds II in commercial operations, the 35 MW cumulative Steel Winds project has capacity to bring the state closer to its goal of 30% renewable energy sources by 2015.
Steel Winds harnesses the winds of the Great Lakes region, revitalizing local pride in a site that had been forgotten and neglected since Bethlehem Steel’s closure in the early 1980’s. The project will provide a source of significant revenue by adding an average of $190,000 in annual tax revenue to the surrounding communities and school districts. First Wind also makes $100,000 annual voluntary payments to the cities of Hamburg and Lackawanna’s general funds.
“The Steel Winds project demonstrates that business can be innovative and successful when given the opportunity,” said Hamburg Town Supervisor Steven Walters. “To return a long vacant Brownfield back into a productive piece of property is something everyone should be excited about.”
Located south of Buffalo, New York, in the city of Lackawanna and town of Hamburg, the Steel Winds I project is situated on a 30-acre portion of the former Bethlehem Steel facility, which has been returned to productive use under the New York Department of Environmental Conservation Brownfield Cleanup Program. The 20 MW first phase went online in June 2007. As part of the 15 MW expansion, First Wind installed six additional 2.5 MW wind turbines on additional portions of the old Bethlehem Steel mill site.
“We are happy to see this expansion complete and the continued transformation of this site from a forgotten industrial expanse into a progressive and renewable source of clean energy,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. During construction of the expansion, for which TVIG was the general contractor, Steel Winds II created about 100 jobs, and several local businesses saw an increase in business and revenue.